The online chopblock of text is making it hard to read anything else


Many people do that, too, it’s called “online classes.” :wink:


Man i hate those ]: with my ADD i need to be in a physical class


I’ve been lucky enough to avoid having to teach them thus far. We’ll see if that continues into the future.


Raises hand.

I really feel like any book I’ve read that’s more than about a century old (not scripts of plays, Shakespeare moved fast) tends to be hard to read for me as a novel. There’s not as much of the idea of a novel as a continuous connected whole, there are more digressions and unresolved or unintegrated bits and things happening for no obvious (to me) reason. This isn’t always a bad thing. I loved it in Tolkien where it was intentional. In other works it can add historical value about what life was really like in a period. But in many works it really disrupts the flow.


80 years in the future, someone will pick up Game of Thrones and be on book 4 and be like ‘damn people back then sure did meander with their writing!’


Like the movie If…, I’m very glad I read Steppenwolf for the first time in that narrow window of susceptibility as a teen. I still love it, but I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone reading it as an adult to “get” it in the same way.


Or, you know, 8 weeks in the future. A Feast For Crows did drag on.


I know. After a long day of reading online news I tried to read Ulysses and I found it nearly impenetrable.


I would not be at all surprised to find a snob core lurking pretty close to the surface of this argument(if not necessarily intended by the person bemoaning their own loss of sustained attention; by people targeting very similar observations externally); a good ‘back in the good old days the liberally educated used their erudition for cultivation and enlightenment while the unwashed wallowed in the grunts and crude pictograms that are their deserved lot’ screed could certainly be written around it.

That said, pointing out that ‘reading’ isn’t obviously a fungible activity that can be measured in words/day and subjected to really, really, naive metrics seems valid enough.

Bureaucratic modernity and the rise of some rather useful and entertaining gadgets still heavily rooted in their keyboard-and-CLI origins undoubtedly increase the words/day numbers and widen the pool of people who routinely read at least something; but it’s not clear that an increase in more or less purely instrumental use of text to manipulate user interfaces and fill out forms can be treated as a counterpoint to decline in reading longform literature, voluntarily and as an end in itself.


It has always been harder to read plays than novels. Novelists often add all sorts of stuff to set the scene, describe the characters, explain motivations and so on. Playwrights leave this to the actors, set designers, directors and viewers.


I watch much less video nowadays. Too much of it is long form as in series of novels. Friends recommend catching up on five seasons of something, and I’m thinking tl;dw.
If anything, it’s easier to read long form books with e-readers. You almost always have your books with you. They bookmark automatically, so you don’t lose your place.
I’m not surprised the author had trouble re-reading Hesse though. I went on a Hesse binge in high school. I read one novel, and thought it was great. Then I read another, and it was pretty good, but awfully loaded with symbolism that I felt revealed its weaknesses. The third I found sophomoric, and I was a high school sophomore. I can’t imagine re-reading any Hesse.




Damn, people 13 years ago sure knew how to drag on.


I’m glad somebody got the joke. :wink:


The only way I got through my first couple victorians was to see them as an archaeological dig.


see, but do we really know?

what is a “normal” amount of reading. at night? after work? for whom?

electric lights, mass literacy, public schools, ending laws against learning to read or go to school, 40ish hour work weeks, decreasing costs of books and printing, public libraries, the proliferation of mass market paperbacks…

and that’s not even to mention that age might influence things like free time and reading habits.

seems too hard to pin down the web as some sort of causal agent against some fuzzy idea of “normal” reading.


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